Students part of CCHS’ Early Childcare program took their exams to earn their Early Childhood Professional Certificate (ECPC) throughout the school week of November 27 at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Davie.
A little under 200 students from all levels of the childcare program took the field trip to take the Early Childhood Education (ECE) exams at the Mailman Segal Center on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Both Deborah Covard, who teaches Early Childcare 2, 3, 4 and Directed Studies, and Helise Gailboard, who teaches 1, went on the trip with their students.
“[Gailboard and I] looked to see how many students we had in each class period, and organized it so that we can go together, and divide it up so we can chaperone together,” Mrs. Covard said. “Any students who did not get to pass a test, or have not finished testing, do their retakes with me and [Gailboard’s] class takes the two or three tests they need.”
Students have the chance to take their exams twice a year, in the fall and in the spring in the event they do not pass a certain test. Typically, students who sign up to take the exams and pass the ECPC are in levels 1, 2 and 3 of the program, but those who do not pass while in Early Childcare 4, a higher level of the program, may retake it.
In order to earn their ECPC, which allows them to teach at any Florida preschool, they must pass a series of seven exams, which take 45 minutes each. The ECPC is a necessary element that anyone interesting in volunteering or working for a preschool must have, according to the Florida Department of Education’s guidelines.
“We went to the exam room, where the proctors had a card with all the tests we needed to take. We signed off on them and gave them money to pay for it, and headed to the tables to take the tests,” junior Scarlett Sanchez said. “Usually, if you take more than one, they give you the first packet, you finish, you raise your hand and they give you the next one. When you are done, you go to a room across the hall and just wait.”
Each of the seven tests covers a different aspect of early childhood care: Child Growth and Development, Child Care Facility Rules and Regulation, Behavioral Observation and Screening, Identifying Child Abuse and Neglect, Health Safety and Nutrition, Understanding Developmentally Appropriate Practices and Preschool Appropriate Practices.
“If you pass all your ECE tests, you don’t have to go back to the Nova testing center anymore because you get your ECPC,” senior Kitana Rojas said. “People go however many times it takes them to pass the test.”
Along with passing the tests, students must have logged 480 hours of classroom and center time and completed a thorough portfolio to earn their EPEC.
“The portfolio consists of lessons, notes and anything needed to pass the tests and successfully teach in the center,” senior Corrie Menton said.
After passing all the ECE exams, students are accredited to work and volunteer at preschools around Florida. It is also the next step towards earning one’s national Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, a separate certification which allows individuals to be a staff member at any preschool around the United States.
Photo by Casey Chapter